Lightning Big Game Changer In Green Country Football

Monday, September 21st 2015, 7:03 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The big game changer Friday night was lightning. Weather disrupted games  all over Green Country - some canceled, others delayed. 

The Booker T/East Central was canceled Friday night, and it was the game of the week for Tulsa Public Schools. Other schools had to delay, or cut short their games. While that's a financial impact for the school - the payoff is that no one got hurt because of weather.

Long before the lightning was right over Tulsa Friday night - coaches were clearing football fields, and fans were trying to stay dry. The rain made it uncomfortable, but lightning caused the real disruption.

Read The TPS Thor Guard Lightning Prediction System

In video from Memorial High School, a blinking light is a lightning detector. It was going off long before the first nearby strikes.

"The coaches are very cognizant," said Bob Roberts, TPS Emergency Manager. "We start training early in the year, and the coaches are very cognizant of the danger of lightning."

Tulsa has detectors at all of the high schools - and all of them sounded warnings last Friday. The governing body for high school athletics requires officials to stop play if there's lightning - and wait 30 minutes after the last strike.

At the Jenks Owasso game, that process forced a cancellation. Fans took cover as the coaches and officials made the decision.

"If you have potential storms, you usually have much lower attendance, so we didn't have big crowds because it was raining," Roberts said.

Tulsa's athletic director says the impact of weather last Friday, will easily approach $30,000.

"We actually canceled one, we shortened three and the Webster game was played to the end," said Gil Cloud, TPS Athletic Director. "The other ones did play, but the weather kept people away, and that costs you at the gate; it costs the concessions."

Cloud says schools really can't consider the costs because of the potential savings of a life. Tulsa hasn't had a lightning-related injury that he could remember, but many schools have.

"So we got the first half in just as the lightning was starting to come into the area," Cloud said.